Tired Couples May Take Each Other For Granted

Less gratitude seen among those with sleep problems, researchers say

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MONDAY, Jan. 21 (HealthDay News) -- If you feel underappreciated by your spouse, it may be because he or she isn't getting enough sleep, a new study suggests.

Sleep deprivation can leave couples "too tired to say thanks" and may leave a partner feeling as if they are being taken for granted, according to the findings by University of California, Berkeley researchers.

More than 60 couples took part in each of two experiments. The participants ranged in age from 18 to 56. In one experiment, couples kept a diary of their sleep patterns and how the quality of their sleep affected their appreciation of their partner.

In the other experiment, couples were videotaped as they did problem-solving tasks. People who had slept poorly the previous night showed less appreciation for their partner, the investigators found.

Overall, the findings suggest that poor sleep might make it harder for people to count their blessings and value their partners, said study investigator and UC Berkeley psychologist Amie Gordon.

"Poor sleep may make us more selfish as we prioritize our own needs over our partner's," she said in a university news release.

What can you do?

"Make sure to say 'thanks' when your partner does something nice," Gordon suggested. "Let them know you appreciate them."

Although the study found an association between poor sleep and less gratitude among partners, it didn't prove that sleep deprivation was the cause of the behavior in these spouses.

The study was scheduled for presentation Saturday at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in New Orleans. The data and conclusions of research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers strategies for getting enough sleep.

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